Watch NASA’s historic Artemis 1 launch in slow motion

NASA's Artemis 1 launch of Orion on SLS

While plenty of people on the space coast and around the world stayed up to watch the SLS rocket take flight for the very first time on the historic Artemis 1 launch, that 1:47 a.m. ET liftoff wasn’t ideal for those who wanted to catch some sleep. But we captured the launch of Artemis 1 in slow motion from the press site, so whether you missed liftoff when it happened or just want to relive the moment, you can do so.

Capturing Artemis 1’s launch

Engine shot: Gear

We used a variety of tools to capture the launch, ranging from expensive cinema cameras and telescopes down to simple GoPros. We shot in a variety of frame rates and resolutions to capture the shots we were looking for. In order to capture details of the flame from the press site, I used my Sony FS5 MII cinema camera attached to a 1,900mm reflector telescope. I then set the video resolution to just 1080p which then allowed me to record at 240fps.

Slow-motion engine shot

Wide liftoff shot: Gear

I also shot some of my footage on two Z Cam E2-M4‘s. These micro 4/3 cinema cameras offer 120fps at 4k, letting me capture higher resolution slow motion. For the first of these cameras, I had a quite simple setup. It was simply attached to a Sigma 150-600mm lens on a tripod.

Because the camera has a smaller sensor, when connected to the lens it’s the equivalent of a 300mm-1200mm lens. This camera stayed stationary throughout the launch. I started recording a few minutes prior to ignition, and let it run until I was done tracking.

Wide, slow-motion SLS launch

Telescope tracking shots: Gear

Some of my favorite shots from launch are the ones I captured through my telescope, and with it being computerized I can follow the rocket throughout its flight. It’s by far the most complicated part of my setup. I have my second Z Cam E2-M4 mounted on the back of a Celestron 8SE computerized telescope. However, the telescope itself cannot track the rocket, so I have to connect it to my computer and, using some outstanding software created by Astronomy Live, control the motion of the telescope using a joystick and throttle, like those used for flight simulators.

Telescope tracking Artemis 1 launch

Misc. other gear

In addition to those big setups, I also used a ton of other gear – including some things as simple as older smartphones. I set my iPhone 14 Pro up with a cheap sound meter to capture the general idea of the perceived loudness of the launch from the LC-39 Press Site. I also used GoPros to capture the environment around me, and my own perspective during the launch. Finally, I used an old Z Cam C1 placed behind me to capture my silhouette as the rocket lit up the sky in a way the Space Coast hasn’t seen in years.

Watch SLS launch in slow-motion [Video]

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